For baseball fans, the opening days of January are about as slow as it gets.
Fortunately, for followers of the Oakland A’s minor league system there’s excellent news to look forward to. The Single-A Stockton Ports have announced that the club will play host to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats on April 1 at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton.
The game, which will take place at 6:35 p.m., marks the eighth straight season that the clubs have faced off in an exhibition contest. Tickets for the game will be available in mid-March on stocktonports.com.
The matchup provides a rare opportunity for fans of the A’s to watch prospects from varying levels of the farm system pitted against each other. As Ports marketing director Taylor McCarthy explains, the game isn’t just special for the fans, but for the players as well:
“For starters, it’s a unique game. It’s also a great experience for the Ports players getting to play against guys on the verge of making the big leagues.”
It’s also quite the experience for the River Cats players who have risen through the system:
“Some of the Sacramento guys started out here, it’s really neat to get to come back to their old stomping grounds.”
Just which prospects will be playing in the exhibition game won’t be known for certain until the end of spring training when the A’s set their minor league rosters. However, there is an excellent chance that Michael Ynoa will be on the Ports roster.
The tall-right hander, who ended the 2013 season in Stockton, received a club-record $4.25 million signing bonus back in 2008. For the River Cats, forgotten man Hiro Nakajima could very well take the field. The shortstop languished in the minors for all of 2013 as he hit .283 in 90 games for the A’s top minor league affiliate.
There’s also a slim chance that Addison Russell will be with the River Cats for the game. According to MLB.com, the shortstop is currently the No. 18 prospect in all of the minor leagues. Last year while playing with the Ports, Russell earned Rookie of the Year honors and was also a post season All-Star. Russell ended the season with a brief cameo in Sacramento, but is likely to open up the 2014 season with the A’s Double-A team the Midland Rockhounds.